Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee took a big step on Friday toward meeting a $6 million goal for converting the former Walker Supply warehouse into a food bank.
Jim and Kay Clayton donated $500,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank through the Clayton Family Foundation. The couple toured the warehouse that Second Harvest purchased and is now in the process of renovating. They are in the midst of a fundraising campaign and they hope to have the building renovated and occupied by the end of July.
Jim Clayton, founder of Clayton Homes, said Second Harvest is an organization that does great work and one the Claytons have supported for years. “They’ve grown, and the need has grown so much,” he said. “They have an efficient and effective organization and process to gather great food to serve a great need.”
Rick Johnson, president of the Board of Governors for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, said the donation is extremely important. “We have a goal of $6 million and anytime someone makes a contribution as significant as half a million dollars, it is very important,” he said. “We have raised a total of $4.4 million toward the $6 million goal. We need $1.5 million more to turn this building into a food bank.”
Elaine Streno, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, said she was grateful to the Claytons. “I just want to say thank you,” she said. “This is an honor. We’re grateful for the support as we feed the hungry.”
Streno said she was ecstatic when she learned the Clayton Family Foundation planned to make the donation. “I screamed,” she said. “You probably heard me 20 miles away.”
Streno said fundraising to purchase and renovate the building has been a two-year process. “As far as raising the money, we started this campaign when the bottom had dropped out of the economy,” she said. “It is an incredible honor that the Clayton Family Foundation is helping us meet a need.”
The mission of Second Harvest Food Bank is to “eliminate hunger in an 18-county service area” by providing food, services and education and to address the nutritional needs of all people at risk of hunger.
Second Harvest Food Bank statistics show Second Harvest feeds an average of 158,000 people.
Second Harvest is asking individuals and businesses in East Tennessee to help renovate the 78,000 square-foot building, which will become the new distribution facility for the entire 18-county region. The facility is the former Walker Supply warehouse just off Middlesettlements Road at 136 Harvest Lane, Maryville.
The Second Harvest $6 million Space to Erase Hunger capital campaign will conclude on July 4 and Second Harvest operations hope to move into the new location later that month.
Remaining renovations include racking the warehouse, building freezer and cooler rooms and installing appropriate hardware and software.